Open Couch – Like a Virgin

Or

At Last the Secret Is Out
 
If there was anyone out there who didn’t know that we’ve had a (prolonged) hiatus, with the first minutes of this episode they would know – for we get the kind of The-Road-So-Far montage we are only given after a long break. The first twelve episodes condensed into these scenes with Aerosmith’s ‘Back in the Saddle’… yes, our show is back. And, boy, did I miss it.
 
It’s been long weeks without Winchesters and Co. Now I can relax again, as the natural order is restored… ah, well… is it? A new leader rises in the West, the Mother of all Monsters has re-surfaced and everything will get darker. But not today. Today I celebrate that I recognize my Sam again. I celebrate that Dean was given at least a little break from worrying. I celebrate the return of brotherly moments, for I intend to revel in them as long as I can. With tragedy already knocking on the door (or, well, the wall…), I’m certain they won’t last long.
 
At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end
 
Strange things are happening. Young women disappear. For instance from a plane flying through a thunderstorm. Who in his right mind does that? Guys, playing the boasting hero who will fly even through thunder and lightning isn’t always the best idea. You never know what might wait out there. In this case the ‘what’ has wings. Dragons are crawling the Earth. For the first time since the Middle Ages. And they have a preference for virgins. 

Our heroes know nothing of these new circumstances, yet. For the time being, Dean spends his hours in or outside the panic room, waiting for Sam, who’s still on his cot there with a drip infusion attached to his arm, to wake up. There are moments I wish these hunters would at least occasionally consult a doctor, and I hope they have. Sam unconscious – so much could be wrong with the man. He hasn’t slept in more than a year. His metabolism might be upside down, and if they only gave him plain saline solution, it might not be enough. Sorry, doctor moment over. 

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This scene really moves me, and perhaps even more because it was one of the previews we were given. I was curious to see how it was embedded in the episode, and Castiel’s assessment of Sam’s skinned alive soul is creepy and terrible. He might never wake up. Cas is downright horrified of the state Sam’s soul is in. And in part I agree with him. As much as I know that Sam needed his soul back – I dread the moment when the first images from his time in hell and the pain connected to them will come dripping through that wall.
None here takes this lightly. Dean is scared of it, so is Bobby who is coping with the situation in the manner he’s used to – booze, ahem respectively: medicine. The hunter’s version of an antidepressant. I am not surprised that Bobby seems uneasy. Throughout the whole episode we will see a very distant, bothered Bobby. Even though in some corner of his soul he surely is relieved to meet Sam again, the boy he’s loved for so many years, at the moment he is still troubled by the last events. His ‘son’ almost killing him… Hardly anyone would be able to put that away quickly. 

And still he’s trying to console Dean. Of course Dean is worried. ‘Dean, he’s been through how much? Somehow he always bounces back.’ – ‘He’s never been through this.’
 
Oh, yes, Dean knows. He knows what it means to have been to hell. To have suffered in hell. He’s the expert in that field.  Probably he tries not to imagine what Sam might have been through, but he can’t help being worried out of his wits, I’d say. And he does what he always does when terrified: he tries to focus on the job. Any job. 
 
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend
 
No time. All of a sudden Sam stands in the door. Okay. Here’s the first time I reach for tissues. Sammy… oh, Sammy… As he moves closer, unbelieving, confused, vulnerable, but so very moved to see his brother, I well up. He’s really back. Everything in his demeanor reveals that this is the Sam we grew to love. Instantly we feel the heart of the man, feel his soul. Perhaps I didn’t realize how much I missed him until now. 

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Watching this scene I react like I do when I watch documentaries of river otters, for example. I love those cute little mammals, I could cry every time I see them on pictures or TV. Something about them hits my soul with so much warmth and endless smiles that I feel instantly happy. This is exactly how I respond now. Sammy, the otter? Nay, of course not. But my heart opens up with the same sensation of enchantment. 

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He moves to his brother who equally can’t believe to see him up and about and hugs him desperately… exhaling deeply… as if Sam didn’t believe it until he really felt Dean’s body close to his and realized that he’s really there. 

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I am so beyond myself at this moment as Dean slowly hugs him back, giving in to the notion that his brother is here, back, real. In this instant, Sam can allow himself to feel happy, and we see it in his smile as he turns to Bobby who remains awkwardly confused and distant. Though they were hoping for Sam’s return, it is a bit much. I can only assume there are a wild variety of emotions raging through Bobby right now. 

Emotions, Sam doesn’t know anything about, of course. He felt Lucifer snap Bobby’s neck, and to find him alive must be overwhelming for him, even more as he hears that Castiel is alive, too. The gang survived! What a relief for the young hunter who still remains in merciful oblivion about what happened over the last year and a half. 

With re-souled Sam on the screen I can’t help but think how amazing an actor Jared Padalecki has become. This is an utterly different person than the one we’ve encountered over the first half of the season. Jared showed us, just as he did when he portrayed Lucifer, how much he has honed his acting abilities. To play such a multi-dimensional character requires some. And he is constantly growing in his craft. I can’t help it. I get so very proud when I see a young actor grow. 

When the show started out, Jared was still very young and inexperienced in the drama department. He had not portrayed characters of these dimensions before and you can watch his development from season to season, becoming more and more a match for Jensen Ackles’ already fabulous acting skills. Watching those two grow to a pair of wonderfully attuned actors had been a joy from episode one. It produced chemistry I fell victim to from the beginning. They have been the heart and soul of this show. Their relationship was tight, and then torn apart, brought together again… a cyclone of confusing emotions but always based on deep brotherly love. 
The last time I felt this was in Swan Song. And that has been a while. I missed it. I missed missing them… 
 
Looks like I’m on a similar page with this as Sam is, since all that he remembers took place in Swan Song. And then waking up in the panic room. But, Sammy, dear, this won’t remain a peaceful return, I fear. Memories will be coming back. That’s how it works with anything shoved down into the deep pits of a human’s psyche.
 
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire
 
And that’s exactly what Dean fears…. Yes, we are back again to protecting each other by masking the terrible truth. Indeed, the show is back. This is the Winchester way. Ah, Dean… all that weight on your shoulders again. 

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He takes it willingly. He needs to save his brother. He can’t help it. He stuffs back his own despair that’s creeping up his spine and plays the ‘happy’ brother which, unfortunately, results in more confusion for Sam who knows what it must have meant to spend one and a half year in hell and who can’t remember a thing. And with his brother being all tight-lipped, of course Sam must assume that Dean made a deal of sorts. 

And he did, eh? Dean, this is your brother you are trying to fool… it’s not working, and Bobby isn’t of much help here, either. Sam knows. He can’t yet lay a finger on it, but he knows that something must be terribly wrong. The something ‘…I should know?’ Sam has always had splendid instincts. He will find a way to reveal the answer. But for the moment, Dean has to insist that for once, everything is ‘neat and clean’. 

This scene is so intense. Sam’s confusion (and, the man is finally eating something, bless him), Bobby’s reluctance, Dean’s eager wishful thinking. I need to breathe. I realize shocked, that my nails are dug into the pillow I keep on my stomach when I get nervous… and I am saddened to see Dean holding on to that gift horse like to dear life. He’s ready to do anything to keep the truth from Sam, and he won’t allow Bobby – despite his emotional turmoil – to do it, either. He can’t. 

‘He’s not dumb. He should hear it from us.’
‘Could we just leave it alone for the moment, please?’

Oh, Dean. My heart bleeds for you, as cheesy as that may sound. He knows that Bobby is right. Of course he knows. But I guess he can’t bear the thought of having to break the truth to his brother, now that he has him back, safe and sound, more or less. He’s holding on the illusion he created with Death’s help. But it stands on shaky columns. One of them is Bobby. When he withdraws from the intended mission with a weak excuse, he’s not subtle. ‘One part age, three parts liquor’, is Dean’s equally weak explanation (though a hilarious one!). Oh, yes, Sam will not wait long to get some answers. He feels that something is very, very strange. And wrong. 

Their catching up on the road is not helping, either. Dean barely reveals anything about his life without his brother, and when he should say some more, he turns the radio up. Classic Winchester avoidance strategy, as if Sam couldn’t see right through it. But why not focus on the job at hand, first, before we go searching for the truth, right?
Plus – the déja-vus will be coming, and soon. 

The following scene of two handsome ‘feds’ is one of my favourites. Sam gives the shell shocked sister of one victim the puppy dog look, caring, understanding, that loveable part of his genuine self, and persuades her to let them in for a moment. 

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And then we get that beautiful little smile from Dean who realizes again that his brother is back to his old self, with the hell experience safely stored behind a wall. He feels comfortable right now. Perhaps he even lies to himself, telling himself that all was back to normal, to at least get a breather. He feels so comfortable that he has no problem stealing the missing girl’s diary and informing Sam that the virgin decided to give her boyfriend her most precious gift. ‘That sounded really creepy coming out of your mouth.’ Yep. It did. But, yes, Dean ‘delivered it.’ Oh, yes, I love that scene… 

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Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire
 
Hm, but that leads to another problem – who would want virgins? No, Dean, sweetie, Sam didn’t mean what man would want virgins. More like: which supernatural entity would need virgins and for what? And is must be something paranormal – who else would know that Melissa was not a virgin only by touching her (in a non-biblical way)?

Virgins. Gold. 

There’s one mythical creature that comes to mind. But, wait, those haven’t been around for quite a while. Dragons… ha! They might be real, even though Bobby wouldn’t think of calling Hogwarts. (who would have thought that Bobby might be a Harry Potter fan? Well, since he digs Tori Spelling, everything is possible…) Who he does point them to, however, is an old flame of his – Dr Visyak, a professor of medieval studies. And a great gal.  I’ll believe in an instant that Bobby was an idiot to let that woman go, and I hope we’ll see some more of her in the course of the upcoming episodes. And I wouldn’t mind see her have a go at Bobby. 
 
Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links
 
Bobby and women – an interesting story… Unfortunately, it remains ‘his story to tell.’ Well, I, for one, am hoping to get some background to that someday. Bobby’s love life has been terribly neglected for almost six seasons now… 

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The charming professor doesn’t play around. She knows that dragons are not funny. ‘At all.’ And Dean needs a blade to kill the thing. A sword forged with dragon’s blood. And the woman just happens to have one in the basement. It’s not King Arthurs Excalibur nor Lancelot’s Arondight, nor is it Siegfried’s Balmung. This is the sword of Brunswick, not a sword known in mythology, but probably coming from the ancient German city of Brunswick founded about 800 A.D. and it is said that the name derives from the word brand, denoting that the landscape had been cleared through burning before the city was built. Dragons, by any chance?

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Though it is not Excalibur, we get a wonderful, inspired King Arthur moment here! Alas, Dean is not Arthur… he is of course a modern version of a brave knight, but he is not the knight this sword would choose… not even with heroic music and a stout heart. Well, Dean would not be the Dean if he gave in so quickly… He’s not going to be laughed at by a sword in a stone!